Lord Teach Us To Pray Part 2
by Andrew Boutros
What is prayer?
Prayer in its simplest form is heart to heart conversation between you & God. It’s easier said than done, right? If it’s just that easy than why are we all struggling to pray? Why are so many people having hard time listening to God speak back to them? Why do we all feel at many points in our lives that our prayers hit the ceiling and come back to us empty?
There are so many reasons why we experience this in our spiritual lives, but I will only cover a few in this blog. If we believe and agree that prayer in its simplest form is a HEART to HEART conversation between us and God than we ought to diagnose the condition of our hearts first. Imagine with me, you are driving your car on the freeway and you see a light in your dashboard indicating that you need to adjust your tires, it’s called the pressure warning light. You have two choices, either you continue your journey and postpone it, or you exit from the freeway to the nearest gas station to adjust your tires. The choice is yours & yours alone! There are signs that you can look for in your life that will indicate the condition of your heart and prayer is one of the signs that will show that to you.
St. Mark the Ascetic said, “We should often, if not daily, examine our souls and repent of the sins that we find there.” Examining the conditions of our hearts is an essential first step in learning how to pray. If I don’t know what’s blocking me internally from listening or talking to God, then I am likely to give up on prayer and in turn, give up on God after only a few attempts.
St Basil the Great also said “One cannot approach the knowledge of the Truth with a disturbed heart. Therefore, we must try to avoid everything that disturbs our heart, that causes forgetfulness, excitement, or passion that awakens unrest.”
Second step that we need to do so we can learn how to pray is to define the why, to set intentions. The German philosopher Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” This concept is true in so many aspects in our lives especially our spiritual lives, if we go to church Sunday mornings aimlessly with no purpose then we won’t benefit much of the readings, prayers, and communion.
If we stand in prayer aimlessly with no purpose then we won’t enjoy, benefit and experience the peace that God has for us. The disciples went to Jesus one day after he finished His prayers and told Him “Lord, teach us to pray.” Titus of Bostra, a Christian Theologian commented on this request saying, “The disciples having seen a new way of life, desire a new form of prayer, since there were several prayers to be found in the Old Testament.” St. Gregory of Nyssa also commented on this request saying, “He unfolds the teaching of prayer to his disciples who wisely desire the knowledge of prayer, directing them how they out to beseech God to hear them.” When you go in to pray with the purpose and intention of connecting with God and enjoying His presence, you will benefit 100% more than going into prayer aimlessly or because prayer became some sort of routine for you.
After you examine the condition of your heart and set intentions ,the next step is to ask God to teach you how to pray exactly as the disciples did. It’s a simple step yet we struggle to do it. One of the early church fathers instructs us saying “prayer is action. To pray is to be highly effective, it’s be speaking a foreign language that one learns it, and by praying one learns to pray.” So, stand in front of God and tell Him “Lord I’m clueless, Lord Jesus I’m lost, I tried before and failed and have no desire, motive or passion to pray anymore. Can you please teach me how to pray? Can you teach me how to enjoy being in your presence? Can you open my eyes to the blessings you have for me? Teach me Lord how to love you and how to fall in love with you. Teach me Lord to how abide in you.”
Start small and seek help and watch what God will do in your life and with your life. St. Theophan the Recluse said “Nothing comes without effort. The help of God is always ready and always near but is given only to those who seek and work, and only to those seekers who are after putting all their powers to test, cry out their whole heart ‘Lord help us.’”